Thursday, July 10, 2008

SMALL MOVES TO ROUND OUT THE ROSTER

Alas, my man-crush on Josh Smith must end here. Apparently, the Warriors don't think highly of his game and perhaps feel that Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph can adequately address the defensive and rebounding needs the Warriors so desperately need. I would have loved to have seen a front line rotation of Smith, Wright, Randolph, and Biedrins, but that won't be happening on Mullin's watch. Big mistake, in my opinion. Smith is a much better shooter than Wright and has already proven that he brings it on the defensive end. Warriors could have traded Wright for a great PG or SG somewhere down the line. This was a missed opportunity to make this team a whole lot better.

Sadly, I move on.


The Current Roster:

With no more big moves expected for the Warriors this offseason (according to Nellie), we are left to guess what could be the remaining transactions to fill up the rest of the roster. As it stands (assuming Ronny Turiaf's offer sheet is not matched by the Lakers) the roster looks like this:

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson
SG: Stephen Jackson / Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Maggette / Anthony Randolph
PF: Al Harrington / Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf / Kosta Perovic

With the addition of Maggette, the Warriors gain a scorer that can hit the 3-pointer, penetrate zones, and get to the line at will. He's strong enough to finish after contact, makes his freethrows, andis a good rebounder from the SG/SF position. What he doesn't bring to the table is defense and the ability to make his teammates better. He has a reputation for dominating the ball in one-on-one situations leaving his teammates standing around watching him work.

Turiaf is a good addition to the front line and will act as Biedrins' primary backup at center. He is agile, athletic, strong, and bulky which makes him a great compliment to the rest of the skinny PF's and C's on the roster. Same goes for the second round draft pick Richard Hendrix. He's a tough rebounder and shot blocker with some post up skills. He'll be able to backup the PF's and shift to C when the Warriors go small.

Anthony Randolph might be a year or two away from contributing, but you can't count him out considering he's a near 7-footer that can handle the ball and shoot a bit from the outside. Nellie coveted him and commented that he would have chosen him with the #1 pick (the mystery player in his KNBR interview). Randolph could be a big-time mismatch weapon that could be unleashed later in the season if Nellie feels he's ready.

With the departure of Baron Davis the Warriors lose a leader that made the game easier for the rest of the players on the court. He directed the club, took on double teams that freed up others, and often played clutch ball down the stretches of tight games. He was the player mostly responsible for the unbelievable chemistry that made the Warriors fun to watch. Fans knew it was going to end some time, but many did not expect it to come this offseason.

Monta is forced to move to PG, a position he needs to excel at if he is to be considered one of the greats in the NBA. He is too small to dominate at SG, but if he can learn to run the club and make others around him better, he will be a future All-Star. An inordinate amount of pressure is heaped on the 22 year old's shoulders, and if Monta can't pull it off, the Warriors are likely to suffer. Jackson will shift over to SG to try and take some of the ball-handling pressure off Ellis' hands. His length will also be an asset as defensive help on the perimeter.

Wright and Belinelli are slated to get more playing time, so their energy will be a great addition to the rotation. Wright brings rebounding and shot blocking while not bogging down the offense. Belinelli can light it up from outside with three point barrages 30 feet from the basket.


Remaining Priorities:
  1. Acquire a backup PG with true point guard skills
  2. Acquire perimeter defender
  3. Add depth at SF
I believe this team is not good enough to make it to the playoffs and not bad enough to luck out and win the lottery, so the Warriors might as well try and fill the roster with cheap, young talent with upside and short deals. With only 3 roster spots left, here is what the Warriors should do to address the remaining priorities:

1. Backup PG: Take a chance on Shaun Livingston. He's going to be low risk, high reward type of acquisition, but don't expect to see much of him on the court this season. He has amazing talent at only 22 years old but is still on his long road to recovery coming off that major knee injury. Currently, he is able to take part in 1-on-1 contract drills and is doing dunking drills. Sign him to a cheap multi-year deal with incentives. Monta needs to be thrown into the fire, so to speak, and must embrace the PG position. C.J. Watson will back him up until Livingston is ready to step back onto the court. Others to consider: Sebastian Telfair, Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo


2. Perimeter Defender: Kelenna Azubuike is a must re-sign. He is a tough defender with strength, skill, fearless mentality, court awareness, and athleticism. He can be the primary backup SG but can also add depth to the SF position. Azubuike proved to be a valuable asset to the Warriors down the stretch and is someone the Warriors shouldn't let walk away. If no one offers him a deal over $3.5 million, the Warriors should match and bring him back. Others to consider: DeMarcus Nelson, Jamont Gordon, Tony Allen


3. SF Depth: Walter Herrmann isn't exactly young, but he's definitely Nelson's kind of player. He's tall and athletic with a scorer's mentality. He's a very good three point shooter and good rebounder from the 3 spot. Because of his size, he could be used at PF to create additional mismatches coming off the bench. In Nellie's system, you can never have too many 3-point shooters. Others to consider: Antoine Wright, Bostjan Nachbar, Pat Calathes




Proposed Roster:

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson / Shaun Livingston
SG: Stephen Jackson / Kelenna Azubuike / Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Maggette / Walter Herrmann / Anthony Randolph
PF: Al Harrington / Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf / Kosta Perovic


Estimated Salary:

(click to enlarge image)

With many of the swingmen being able to play mulitple positions, there's a lot of versatility in this lineup, but admittedly, there will be some weakness at the point guard position until Livingston can gradually log in some minutes off the bench. There will be some growing pains for this team that just lost it's leader, but with the three final additions to the roster, there is talent, deficiencies addressed, cap flexibility maintained, and hope for the future.

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